It’s hard to believe but we’ve actually come full circle. There was a time, when Kiefer Sutherland was voicing marine corporals in videogames instead of aging spies, when the world came together and declared in one voice that we’ve had enough of killing Germans and Japanese in the 1940s. Luckily for Activision, they picked that exact time to put out a game about combat in today’s world, and we haven’t looked back since.
Now City Interactive, best known for the Sniper Ghost Warrior franchise, has brought back first person shooting during World War II with a game called Enemy Front; and I can say that it doesn’t feel over done anymore. On top of that, you’ll instantly feel back at home since Enemy Front does absolutely nothing to change up the tried and true formula of shooting at people during World War II.
In Enemy Front you play as Robert Hawkins, a war correspondent who decided that the best way to get the story he wants is from the front lines; so Robert spends all of World War II going from country to country and signing up with any resistance group that will have him. That said, I never saw Robert actually write anything down. The closest Robert gets to reporting on the war is setting up a pirate radio station during the introductory cut scene so that he can tell everyone that war is hell.
This is the point where I really wanted to complain about how the main character can instantly start doing any job (like soldiering or radio broadcasting) just because he can say to other people that, “I’m a writer. I know how this works.” Yes, that’s a line he says in this game, and yes he has that same smugness that most male characters have in videogames. Without turning this into novel I’ll simply tell you that I found Robert Hawkins personally insulting on multiple levels.
Unfortunately, there is very little point in complaining about an annoying main character when faced with such a large number of technical issues. To name a few, the AI is flat out dumb, the stealth system is unbalanced, the controls feel like I am fighting Robert for control, the voice acting has issues, and the list goes on. Topping that list would have to be the non-playable character AI, which is just not good on any level. I could give you a ton of examples, but my favorite happens when you’re in France for the first time. You begin this part of the game by ambushing two guards mid-patrol. I was able to attack and take one down, and I would be okay if the other dude just didn’t notice. Instead, the conversation the German guards were having continued for some time, and my dead German was even contributing to it. It was only after that particular audio file stopped that the other German turned around. When you do get into a fire fight, the AI will either rush you like mad men, or stand there as you pick them off from cover. The few times that the Germans would duck down, it would always be behind a piece of the world that would never completely cover them. During the first level, the Germans seemed to favor a desk model that had a giant hole in the middle, and after a while I had to wonder if the AI was just patronizing me.
At another point in the game I was running down the center of a river to try and get to a bridge that I promised to blow up. I suddenly stopped moving when I noticed that the vegetation cover to my left had disappeared and there was an enemy character just standing there looking at me. I figured I was in for a fight until the NPC, who was guarding this river I might add, just walked off in the other direction like he couldn’t be bothered. There is a good chance that this particular issue was caused by the stealth mechanics of Enemy Front.
In Enemy Front you’re given a very long red bar on the right side of your user interface, and once that bar is filled the enemies will know you’re around; however, the bar starts to empty the second you’re behind cover and out of sight. As a result there were times when I was able to jump out of cover, kill a German soldier, and jump back behind cover before the bar was filled. You may wonder why that’s an issue, especially since there are whole games designed around the idea of stealth combat. Unfortunately, in Enemy Front you can kill one German in front of another, and no one will notice if you keep the stealth bar from filling up.
Although here is a tip for sneaking past the AI of this game, many of the maps are very big and the German NPCs usually seem to be grouped on the same side of the map you start on. I would always run to the other side of the map before proceeding to my objective and I always ran into few German NPCs.
All of the other issues are pretty much self-explanatory. German bodies will either fall through other objects, or disappear when you’re not looking at them. The controls are heavier than the Titanic, and it really did feel like I was fighting the player character for control. My issue with the voice is whenever the main character speaks; he’s missing the same equalization and reverb as the NPCs. This made Robert Hawkins sound like every line he delivered came while locked in the bathroom.
This game does have multiplayer, but whoever made it doesn’t understand the idea of a quick match. Instead of dropping you into any match, as long as there are people; you pick quick match or private match. Then you decide to play ranked or unranked. After that you choose from Deathmatch, Radio Transmission, or Team Deathmatch, and finally you pick to play on one of four maps. Beyond that I can’t tell you what the multiplayer is like because you need eight players to launch a round, and the closest I got was sitting in a lobby with six.
To be fair, the game does have one or two gems buried deep beneath the surface. The maps are big and that allows for multiple approaches to one objective. The load times are covered by pretty vignettes that come in the form of 3D models in a nicely modelled area. The camera will fly through these vignettes while you wait for the next level to load, and trust me when I say they are by far the best looking visuals in the game. The player’s radar also has a pair of lines in the shape of a V, and these will contract and expand depending on whether you’re looking down the sights of a gun or shooting from the hip. Since the enemy AI blends in with the surrounds I found these two lines to be very helpful when tracking down NPCs.
In the end, I could write a witty paragraph that summed up my points, but all you really need to know is never buy this game. Never ever ever ever ever… Never.